Lt. Col. W.G. Barker V.C. – The pride of Dauphin, Lieutenant-Colonel W. (Billy) G. Barker V. C. is known as one of Canada’s most celebrated heroes of World War I. Gallantly serving as an ace pilot, Barker’s reputation gained him international prominence.
William George Barker was born November 3, 1894 in Dauphin. Following basic military training he went overseas June 1915 with the First Canadian Mounted Rifles, selected to be a machine gunner at Shorncliffe Military Camp, and was sent to the Western Front in France.
Like many other aces, Barker learned the best way out of the trenches was to join the Royal Flying Corps. A natural pilot on the Western Front, Barker won the Military Cross twice. In Italy he added many more victories to his record and had the distinction of commanding a squadron of two-seater fighters.
On his last day of duty Barker fought a combat mission which has become legendary in the history of air warfare. High above the lines he shot down one enemy machine, but was set upon by formations of approximately 60 Fokkers. Repeatedly wounded in the arms and legs, Barker fought them off and destroyed several of his opponents before crash landing behind Allied lines. His heroic combat against such heavy odds won Barker the Victoria Cross as the culmination of a brilliant career.
A plaque to commemorate Barker was placed at the Lt. Col. W. G. (Billy) Barker V. C. Airport on June 1st, 2000. On July 26, 2006 a statue was unveiled and stands proud in the Dauphin airport terminal.
Lt. Col. W. G. (Billy) Barker V. C. Airport
WWII Training Schools & Wreckage: The military history buff will find no shortage of information in Dauphin. During WWII, young airmen from the Commonwealth flew over the Dauphin area while training for the war effort. On February 27, 1941, training commenced atNo.10 S.F.T.S (Service Flight Training School) located at the present day Lt. Colonel W.G. Barker V.C. Airport, as well as at the No.1and No.2 Relief Fields. No.1 “North Junction” was located on Highway 362, six kilometres north of Dauphin, while No.2 “Valley River R.C.A.F.” was situated six kilometers west on gravel road 151. Here, the student pilots practiced touchdowns and take-offs on the grass runways.
The No.7 Bombing and Gunnery School opened on June 24, 1941 at Paulson, located 13 kilometres east of Dauphin on Highway 20. Because of its proximity, Lake Dauphin was used as a practice bombing target range, where there are still a few visible remains of a once-thriving base. There were many crashes in the area and over 50 men lost their lives. Some of the airmen, from Britain, New Zealand and Australia, are buried at the Riverside Cemetery in Dauphin.
Thank you to Ed Stozek for sharing his research.